Economics of Inequalities and Inequalities of Economics

AEFJN

Berlin Conference 1884-1885
Berlin Conference 1884-1885

The recent address of the Holy See to the Third United Nations Forum on Business and Human Rights is very insightful. It underlines the centrality of human beings with their Dignity and Rights in all business activities. While it is good for the business corporations to pursue their legitimate profit, it should be done with a dual consideration for the common good and the tenets of Universal Human Rights standards. In the same vein, Amnesty International identifies Human Rights as an indispensable foundation for truly trans-formative post 2015 development agenda. These are salient observations in the wake of massive land grabbing ravaging Africa and the gun point trade agreements going on between Europe and the various economic blocks of Africa. Each of them is a violation of African peoples’ Rights to land and to self-determination.

Human Rights violations have become a recurrent decimal in Africa-Europe economic relationships but it seems that the basic structure was solidly laid at the Berlin conference. The two motives for that conference (Europe’s hunger for the exploitation of Africa’s natural resources and market) were realized without the consent of African people or a consideration of their legitimate needs. Thereafter, the EU development and trade policies in relation to Africa have been simply to enhance these two objectives with the different development programs, activities and aids. And until the legitimate African need of Right to Land and control of her resources are equally considered in her economic relationship with Europe, this basic economic structure will willy-nilly remain a viable tool for the violation of their Human Rights.

These are quite evident in the activities of Dominion Farms project that is in the news about their land grab in North East Nigeria. Though the Dominion Corporation is primarily of American origin, the EU is implicated because the Farm project is part of the UK-based New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition in Africa. It is difficult to reconcile how the EU desires food security for Africa but at the same time aids a corporation that is impoverishing people and taking possession of their land without their consent. One thing that the EU is yet to consider seriously in its development policies is Africa’s psychological and religion-cultural relationship to land. Land is not just property to be traded upon in Africa; rather we belong to the land. That is why land has the status of a deity to be worshiped in the Africa’s traditional religious thought. So to dispossess an African of land without his consent is to deprive him of the Right to live in the human society and in my opinion it is the ultimate Human Right violation.

Recently too, a German member of the EU parliament who could not contain his disappointment with the way the EPAs deal was brokered between the EU and East Africa described it as “gun point” trade agreements. Experts like Liz May and Andrew Mold who are the Head of Policy at Traidcraft and the UN’s economic analyst for East Africa respectively, chorused with the honorable MP’s remark. Prior to the October dateline 2014 for the signing of the EPAs, the people of Africa have voiced out their disapproval for the trade agreement but that obviously did not register with the  EU as it went ahead as planned albeit in secret. Would one consider an agreement without consent a valid agreement? The remaining block to completely fall to the EU gun point trade agreement is ECOWAS with Nigeria standing on the way. My calculation is that the refusal of EU to give adequate support to Nigeria to fight the Boko Haram menace is more of an Economic ploy to bend Nigeria to endorse the EPA’s than Human Right violations of the Nigeria military as claimed by UK. Above all, a question of the ECOWAS farmers remains very valid; if the EU so valued free trade agreements, why would it refuse it with US? Why would it now turn around to impose it on Africa? The whole scenario presents a deliberate refusal to recognize the Africa people’s right to self- determination.